Review: Asus PA238Q

Our score: 5/5
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March 5, 2012 8:48 AM
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Published: March 5, 2012 8:39 AM
By Alexandre Botella
Being a smaller version of a superstar monitor is no mean feat. In fact, with its first-rate performances, the Asus PA246Q is a particularly hard act to follow, and expectations are riding high for the Asus PA238Q. Will this 23-inch Full HD IPS-screen monitor be the second display in the Asus ProArt series to bag a five-star review? Time to find out!

Design and Build: Winning Formula

Asus has clearly understood what made the PA246Q such a great monitor and has carried all that over to the PA238Q. The PA238Q therefore has an unusual but highly practical build, including a fully adjustable stand (portrait mode, height adjustable, swivel base), as well as four of the main video connections—HDMI, DVI, VGA and even DisplayPort.

Asus pa238q pivot stand


Although it doesn't have built-in speakers, Asus has equipped this monitor with a headphones socket that can be used to transit sound input coming from the HDMI or DisplayPort to a pair of headphones or a 2.1 speaker kit. This monitor also has four USB ports, with two on the side of the screen and another two around the back.

Asus pa238q usb ports - review


Asus has chosen to use an IPS screen panel in this display. As a result, the PA238Q offers wider viewing angles than with frequently used TN panels, and colours remain more consistent across the screen. The PA246Q does, however, still have one key advantage over this 23-inch model—a higher resolution. While the 24-inch monitor displays 1920 x 1200 pixels, the PA238Q makes do with 1920 x 1080 pixels, but that's still enough to ensure perfect compatibility with HD content.

Colours and Contrast: Good Settings Out Of The Box

When you unwrap this monitor, you'll find a slip of paper giving its delta E, as measured in the factory before it was dispatched (delta E quantifies the difference between colours requested by the source and those displayed onscreen—the lower the better). According to this piece of paper, the PA238Q should always arrive in stores with a delta E reading of 5 or under. That still seems a bit high to us, though, as we consider a screen to reproduce accurate colours when it has a delta E of 3 or under. 

Asus pa238q review - colours


In the end, there was nothing to worry about, as we measured a delta E of 2.7 for this monitor—straight out of the box with no settings adjusted. However, according to our lab tests, blue is slightly dominant in colour reproduction, but this tiny flaw is very easy to get rid of—just go into the menu and switch the colour temperature from 6500 K to 5500 K. Once you've done that, the delta E drops to 2.2 and the blue overtone is eliminated.

Like the PA246Q, contrast isn't awful but it's a bit disappointing. The PA238Q has a maximum contrast ratio of 750:1, which is a little below the average of 850:1 for all the monitors we've tested so far.

Responsiveness: A Minor Adjustment

Asus hasn't done quite as good a job with the factory settings of the Overdrive mode (called Trace Free in the internal menu), which boosts the monitor's responsiveness by increasing the voltage. When this function isn't handled well or is pushed too hard, reverse ghosting effects appear onscreen, with a kind of 'negative' image trailing behind moving objects. Thankfully, it doesn't take much to correct things in the PA238Q, as setting Trace Free from 60 to 40 gets rid of reverse ghosting while still maintaining a decent response time. 


Responsiveness
PA238Q ghosting review test
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Dark
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This graph shows the ghosting time, measured in ms, that the monitor takes to entirely remove the previous frame. The shorter the time, the more fluid moving images will appear

With these settings, the PA238Q just manages to claw itself a fourth star for responsiveness. It's therefore not the fastest monitor out there, but fast movements onscreen are clear enough to suit the vast majority of gamers.

Although the input lag hasn't been 100% eliminated, it's not big enough to be any real problem. In fact, with an average input lag below 17 ms, it's not noticeable to the human eye.
5/5 Asus PA238Q DigitalVersus 2012-03-05 09:39:00

Pros

  • Accurate colours
  • Wide viewing angles
  • Design and build (stand, connections, accessories)
  • High-end finish

Cons

  • Contrast is below average compared with other monitors tested
  • Power use: 38 watts

Conclusion

In spite of its slightly disappointing contrast, the P238Q is still an excellent monitor. It boasts a great design and build, displays accurate colours, has nice, wide viewing angles and is responsive enough for gaming. What's more, it's really not over-priced for a monitor that's supposed to be mainly aimed at image industry professionals. In the end, it's a bit like a PA246Q but without the 1920 x 1200 pixel resolution.

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